A reminder for PhD students with research interests relating to the ancient, medieval and early modern worlds: the British Library’s Doctoral Open Day for our pre-1600 collections will take place on 5 February 2018. The day is aimed at first-year doctoral students who would like to learn more about finding and using our collection material for their research. The approach is interdisciplinary and useful for students working on topics in classics, history, literature, history of art, religion, and the history of science and medicine. You can book your place on the Events page. A ticket to attend costs £10, including lunch and refreshments. The number of places is limited, so booking in advance is necessary.
Early Career Post-Doctoral Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts
Thanks to external funding, we are pleased to announce a new 3 year fixed-term position in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern section at the British Library, for a Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts. The successful candidate will have recently completed a doctoral degree in medieval art history, history, literature or another closely-related discipline, or its equivalent, and have the specialist knowledge and strong research experience appropriate for an early career researcher. The new curator will assist the Lead Curator, Illuminated Manuscripts, in all aspects of curatorial work. The principal duties will include cataloguing, describing and publicising medieval and illuminated manuscripts.
The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200
A new project is underway to open up further the unparalleled collections of illuminated manuscripts held by the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. In a ground-breaking new collaborative project the national libraries of Britain and France will work together to create two innovative new websites that will make 800 manuscripts decorated before the year 1200 available freely. The Bibliothèque nationale de France will create a new bilingual website that will allow side-by-side comparison of 400 manuscripts from each collection, selected for their beauty and interest. The British Library will create a bilingual website intended for a general audience that will feature highlights from the most important of these manuscripts and articles commissioned by leading experts in the field. Both websites will be online by November 2018.
Before the introduction of printing to Europe, all books were written by hand as manuscripts. The most luxurious of these were illuminated, literally ‘lit up’ by decorations and pictures in brightly coloured pigments and burnished gold leaf. All manuscripts — whether they are luxurious biblical or liturgical manuscripts, copies of classical literature or patristic, theological, historical or scientific texts — are valuable historical documents that can deepen and expand our understanding of the political, social and cultural life of the eras in which they were made. Their research value is inestimable.
The British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France have two of the largest collections of medieval manuscripts in the world. As a result of France and England being so closely entwined through periods of war, conquest and alliance and, in the medieval period, both nations claiming territory in France at times, both libraries have particularly strong holdings of French manuscripts produced in France or in Britain (but written in French or Latin).
This new project will add to the growing numbers of manuscript material available in full online as part of wider programmes to make these cultural treasures available to everyone around the world. At the British Library, over 8,000 items are currently available on our Digitised Manuscripts website. Similarly, thousands of items are available from the Bibliothèque nationale de France collections on its website, Gallica.
This exciting project is made possible by a generous grant from The Polonsky Foundation. Dr Leonard Polonsky remarks that ‘our Foundation is privileged to be supporting these two leading institutions in preserving the riches of the world’s cultural heritage and making them available in innovative and creative ways, both to scholars and to a wider public’.
The Polonsky Foundation is a UK-registered charity which primarily supports cultural heritage, scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and innovation in higher education and the arts. Its principal activities include the digitisation of significant collections at leading libraries (the British Library; the Bibliothèque nationale de France; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; Cambridge University Library; the New York Public Library; the Library of Congress; the Vatican Apostolic Library); support for Theatre for a New Audience at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, New York; and post-doctoral fellowships at The Polonsky Academy for the Advanced Study of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Its founder and chairman, Dr Leonard S. Polonsky, was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for charitable services in 2013.
The focus on the digitisation project will be on manuscripts produced on either side of the English Channel between 700 and 1200. The manuscripts from this period open up a window on a time of close cultural and political exchange during which scribes moved and worked in what is now France, Normandy and England. Decorated manuscripts containing literary, historical, biblical and theological texts will be included, representing the mutual strengths of the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Online access to these manuscripts will support new research into how manuscripts — and people — travelled around Europe in this period. New connections will be made possible by studying the two collections side by side.
For example, the manuscripts selected will include a number of illuminated Gospel-books, providing a witness to the changing tastes, influences and borrowings reflected in the books’ design and script. So a 9th-century, a 10th-century and a late 12th-century Gospel-book all have colourful illuminated initials with geometric patterns, floral decoration or animals heads, yet their execution is very different. The script, colours, style and subjects of the illumination all provide clues to the time and place of their composition. With the digitisation of manuscripts all these features may be studied and enjoyed in detail.
As well as making 800 manuscripts freely available online, the project will be part of a wider programme of activities aimed at researchers and the general public. A number of the manuscripts digitised will be displayed in a major international exhibition on Anglo-Saxon England to be held at the British Library from October 2018 to February 2019, which will highlight connections between Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent.
A conference at the British Library will coincide with the Anglo-Saxon exhibition (December 2018), and a project conference will be held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. An illustrated book showcasing beautiful and significant manuscripts from the collections will also be produced. Another output will be a film on the digitisation project that, together with the other aspects of the public programme, will open up new paths into collections for a variety of audiences.
The original version of this blog post in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts Blog can be found here.
Adapted for Medieval Art Research blog by Amy Jeffs
Original text by Tuija Ainonen
Thanks to external funding, the British Library is pleased to be able to offer an internship in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section of the Western Heritage Department, for doctoral and post-doctoral students in History, Art History, Medieval Language or Literature or another relevant subject.
The focus of the internship will be to enhance our Explore Archives and Manuscripts online catalogue, by creating or enriching catalogue entries for medieval manuscripts and publicising them in blog posts and other interpretative material. The intern will assist curators working on The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200. This may involve writing or researching short descriptions of manuscripts and groups of manuscripts. The intern will be involved in others aspects of the work of the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts section, including responding to enquiries and providing talks for students and visitors, thereby gaining insight into various curatorial duties and aspects of collection care. During the internship at the British Library, the intern will enjoy privileged access to printed and manuscript research material, and will work alongside specialists with wide-ranging and varied expertise.
This internship is designed to provide an opportunity for the intern to develop research skills and expertise in medieval history and manuscripts, and in presenting manuscripts to a range of audiences. Previous interns have given feedback that they felt a valued member of the team, gained professional confidence and developed their career by carrying out a ‘real’ job with specific duties.
The programme is only open to students who are engaged actively in research towards, or have recently completed a PhD in a subject area relevant to the study of medieval manuscripts and who have a right to work in the UK full time.
The term of internship is full time (36 hours per week over 5 days) for 6 months. The salary is £9.75 per hour, which is the current London Living Wage. The internship will start in July 2017 or as soon as relevant security checks have been completed.
To apply, please visit www.bl.uk/careers.
Applicants are asked to include answers to the following questions within their Supporting Statement:
- Please give examples of your experience in cataloguing medieval manuscripts. 2. Please provide examples of your experience in writing about your research or about manuscripts for a general audience.
Closing Date: 1 May 2017
Interviews will be held on 19 May. The selection process may include questions about the date and origin of a particular manuscript to be shown at the interview.
Conference: Greek Manuscripts in the British Library, British Library Conference Centre, September 19, 2016
Click here for the Conference Programme
To mark the completion of the third phase of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project and the launch of the Greek Manuscripts Online web resource, the British Library is hosting a one-day conference devoted to Greek Manuscripts on 19 September, 2016. Confirmed participants include Sebastian Brock (Oxford), Charalambos Dendrinos (Royal Holloway), Elizabeth Jeffreys (Oxford), Charlotte Roueché (King’s College London), Maria Georgopoulou (Gennadius Library, Athens) and Giorgi Parpulov (Plovdiv, Bulgaria). Speakers will discuss a variety of topics related to the Library’s digitised Greek collections, such as Greek-Syriac palimpsests, Byzantine illuminated manuscripts, Greek written culture and the digital humanities and the cultural interactions between Greece and Britain.
The conference will be accompanied by an evening lecture by Michael Wood on ‘The Wisdom of the Greeks’. Michael will be looking at how the legacy of Greece and Byzantium in science, religion and literature was transmitted to the Latin West. Fascinating stories about texts and ideas, scribes and scholars will come to life in the course of this illustrated talk that will include Anglo-Saxon kings, Crusader knights and Renaissance humanists – and even a well-known Elizabethan dramatist!
Please book your place in advance and register online at http://www.bl.uk/events/greek-manuscripts-in-the-british-library-day-ticket .
The British Library and the University of Leicester are pleased to invite applications for a three-year AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD Studentship, available from 1 October 2015. The project will be supervised by Professor Joanna Story, professor of Early Medieval History at Leicester, and by Dr Claire Breay, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts, at the British Library.
The successful candidate will undertake a thesis on Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent centred on the rich manuscript resources at the British Library. The culture of Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman conquest is highly distinctive, not least through the use of the Old English vernacular as a language of written record; but Anglo-Saxon political, religious, economic, linguistic, literary and artistic history cannot be properly understood without reference to contemporary connections with Europe. These cross-Channel connections were always significant, and are manifest in many different ways in manuscripts preserved at the British Library.
Applicants may propose projects that respond to this theme, and which are centred on British Library manuscripts. Potential projects include: ‘Anglo-Saxon England and Rome’; ‘Networks of Knowledge’; ‘Letters to the English’; Perceptions of the Past in Anglo-Saxon England: continental kinship’; ‘Methods of making’.
This studentship coincides with the three-year period of research and preparation for a major British Library exhibition on the Anglo-Saxons that opens in October 2018, and which explores the history, art, and culture of this period through the medium of extant manuscripts. This offers the student an exceptional opportunity to participate in the development of an international exhibition and the Library expects the student to contribute to related publications (in print and online), public events, and academic conferences.
We are seeking a highly promising student who will relish the opportunity of combining academic research with the experience of working as part of a professional team of curators and researchers. This studentship is likely to appeal to individuals with a background in early medieval history, book history, literature, language, or interdisciplinary methods for understanding early medieval material culture. Prior experience of research using early medieval manuscripts will be an advantage, and the successful applicant will demonstrate commensurate skills in relevant languages and palaeography. A commitment to communicating the results of research to a wider public audience is key in the context of the British Library’s exhibition.
Applicants must have a first-class or high upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent qualification) and meet the University’s standard English Language entry requirements. It is expected that applicants will have a related Master’s degree with merit or distinction, or be able to show evidence that they will achieve this by September 2015.
The studentship is available for full-time study only, and applicants must be able to commence their studies in October 2015.
How to apply
To apply you need to complete the standard University of Leicester online application form here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/phd/history .In place of the research proposal requested on this form, you should provide a statement of up to 1,000 words on:
- How you propose to develop the project theme using the British Library collections
- How your education and experience to date has prepared you for this research position, and how you will develop the opportunities offered by the 2018 exhibition.
Applicants should also submit:
- A 4-5,000 word sample of their written work
The successful candidate must meet Research Council eligibility criteria based on UK residency. See paragraphs 42-44 on pp. 11-12 of the RCUK Terms and Conditions for Postgraduate training grants:
Informal enquiries relating to potential research projects or eligibility should be sent to Professor Jo Story: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing Date: Friday 10 April 2015, 17:00 (London time)
Interview Date: 5/6 May 2015, at The British Library
For details of the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme at the British Library please visit http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/highered/hecollab/collabdoctpar/
For more information about the research project offered here and the collaboration with the British Library please consult the Further Particulars, here [http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/history/postgraduate/collaborative-doctoral-award-opportunities].
English Fourteenth-Century Illuminated Manuscripts in the British Library
London, British Library Conference Centre
Monday, 1 December 2014
The British Library is pleased to announce an AMARC conference to celebrate the launch of Lucy Freeman Sandler’s book Illuminators and Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family. Details are as follows:
Speakers: Paul Binski, Alixe Bovey, Julian Luxford, Nigel Morgan, Kathryn Smith, and Lucy Freeman Sandler
Evening book launch and reception hosted by Sam Fogg, at the Sam Fogg Gallery
Registration fees: £20 general, £15 for AMARC members, £10 for students. Lunch provided.
To register, send a cheque made out to AMARC to Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB. Foreign delegates may register and pay on the day. Places limited to 80.
UPDATE: This conference has been so popular it has been moved to a larger lecture hall and more places are now available. http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/10/illuminated-manuscripts-conference-more-places-available.html